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The five ways highly successful entrepreneurs start their day

Friday, 11 October 2013 | By Yolanda Redrup

Beep, beep, beep – the alarm sounds and the chances are you do one of two things: (a) leap out of bed with a spring in your step, or (b) roll over grumbling and pretend it’s not yet morning.


Successful entrepreneurs almost always fall into group ‘a’. Whether it’s throwing a few punches, jogging or fist pumping to some tunes, one thing is certain – for Australian entrepreneurs, sleeping in isn’t on the agenda.


Healthy body, healthy mind is a motto embodied by many in the entrepreneurial community, who put the rest to shame.


Early morning interviews, coffees and daily prioritising also feature heavily among the morning activities of the business-minded.


SmartCompany spoke to 10 of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs, ranging from restaurateurs, fitness franchise owners, crowdsourcing platform creators and retail experts, to discover how they begin their day.


Early starts


While the average worker can get away with sleeping until 7.30am, entrepreneurs are typically up at the crack of dawn (if not before).


Board of Directors 12 founder Stefan Kazakis kicks off his day at 5.30am, while five:am yoghurt, founded by David Prior, isn’t called five:am for no reason.


“That’s when we milk our cows, but it is a personal thing for me too – I get up every day at 5am,” Prior says.


Wealth Enhancer co-founder Sarah Riegelhuth is also no stranger to early mornings.


“I wake up every day at 5.30am at the latest and workout,” she says.


“I usually go straight to the office from there and shower and have my breakfast.”




Exercise gets the blood pumping and is thought to improve brain function and general productivity, so it’s no surprise entrepreneurs generally start the day with a workout.


“I run every day and usually I meet my friends at the Tan [the track around the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne] for a run or do yoga,” Riegelhuth says.


“I usually go straight to the office from there and shower and have my breakfast.”


KeepCup co-founder Abigail Forsyth starts her day with a morning ride, but unlike some it’s not primarily for fitness.


“I always cycle; it’s part of our sustainability plan. My brother Jamie (the other co-founder) also cycles to work and he lives 10 minutes in the other direction,” she says.


The founder of iconic Melbourne restaurants David’s and Oriental Teahouse, David Zhou, exercises in a more unconventional way.


“I have a quick wash and then I go into the office early and do some exercises on the punching bag, a wooden dummy and speed bag I have set up in different locations around the office. Then I’ll leave again before everyone else arrives and get a bite to eat – it always looks like I’m the last person to arrive,” he says.


Stefan Kazakis hits the gym as soon as he gets up, three times a week: “Whether it’s personal training or a cycle class, something to get the blood running.”


Jetts Fitness founder Brendon Levenson goes for a more peaceful approach.


“I start the day with 10 minutes of stretching and breathing exercises, which is great for getting me focused on the present and setting me up for the day,” he says.




While the daily life of entrepreneurs is often unpredictable, their morning routine is an exception. Whether it’s eating the same cereal, running the same route or getting up at precisely 6.02am, a little bit of routine allows entrepreneurs to waste no time thinking about mundane issues like whether peanut butter or Vegemite is better.


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Founder of online cosmetics retailer Ry.com.au James Patten eats toast with English marmite each morning.


“It's a habit I can’t break even though I am now an Australian citizen. I normally make a few early morning phone calls on the way to work for people I am trying to chase down,” he says.


“I like to arrive at the office between 8.30 and 9am. I listen to ABC radio and will often spend 10 minutes sitting in the car park mentally thinking about the day with the radio on before I hit the office.”


Prior also starts his day in the same way each morning.


“I start with a good, long meditation then I do yoga, then I go for a run, then I sit down to a big breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and granola. I’ve been like that for long, long time,” he says.


Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie’s whole day is planned.


It’s as simple as “get up, go to work and stay at work”, even on weekends.


“It’s all-consuming,” he says.




For entrepreneurs with families, finding time to spend with their children and partners is often a challenge, but many set aside time in the mornings to see their loved ones.


Net-a-porter founder Megan Quinn juggles business commitments (she now has a small consultancy firm called Q&CO) and spending time with her kids.


“Unless I'm giving a business breakfast speech, the day starts at 6.15am, when I wake my eldest daughter and let the dogs out,” she says.


“After dropping Imogen to the school bus, it's back to turn music on throughout the house, wake my younger daughter and get her off to school. While it's a nuisance having to do two school runs, I love being able to chat one-on-one with the girls at the start of every day.”


With three kids, Anytime Fitness co-founder Jacinta McDonell-Jimenez’s mornings are understandably hectic.


“I get up around 6am. I’ve got to get my eldest daughter off to high school and then one going to day care, and then the six-week-old baby to take care of,” she says.


“For me, it’s really important when the kids are as young as they are to have the time with them. Until they’re at school I wouldn’t look at going back to full-time.”




Setting priorities is crucial for every business owner to save feeling swamped under an endless pile of tasks.


Using the morning to prioritise the day’s tasks is an effective way for entrepreneurs to get the most out of each day.


Zhou prioritises his day while eating breakfast, before returning to the office and meeting with his team.


“I make sure everyone is on the same page and then we get into action,” he says.


Riegelhuth has a daily meeting with the whole Wealth Enhancers team to make sure everyone is on track.


“We have an 8.45am dial-in meeting and every one across the country dials in and we go through the challenges we’re facing and the critical numbers and this takes five to 10 minutes and then everyone is on with their day,” she says.


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.